First Read For March 29
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First Read For March 29

More anti-Semitism from Farrakhan: Israel, UAE take part in military exercises; Brexit blamed for rise in kosher food prices; Female Smurf absent from posters in charedi neighborhood; More

Smurfette was removed from posters for “Smurfs: The Lost Village” in a haredi Orthodox neighborhood in Israel. JTA
Smurfette was removed from posters for “Smurfs: The Lost Village” in a haredi Orthodox neighborhood in Israel. JTA

Female Smurf removed from poster in charedi neighborhood

While it is common for posters in charedi neighborhoods in Israel to be “scrubbed clean of women, out of respect for the community’s stringent modesty standards,” that practice also applies to cartoon characters.

JTA reports that a Smurfette, a blue cartoon creature who stars in the latest “Smurfs” movie, is the latest victim of the “modesty wars” in Bnei Brak. A Smurfette is differentiated from three presumably male Smurfs only by her long blonde hair and six cartoon eyelashes; the film’s distribution company decided to erase “the blue-bodied beauty” from posters in order not to offend residents, according to JTA.

Farrakhan to Trump: Don’t let Jews control you

Louis Farrakhan, the controversial Nation of Islam leader who has a history of making anti-Semitic statements, has warned President Trump not to allow himself to be controlled by his adviser Jared Kushner, who is Jewish, the London Jewish Chronicle reports. In a speech in Detroit, Farrakhan said anything discussed in the White House in the presence of Jews would be instantly communicated to Israel.

Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam: “America is never first, Israel is always first.” Getty Images

“When you say, Mr. Trump, ‘America first’, ask any Jew, even your son-in-law [Jared Kushner]. America is never first, Israel is always first,” the Chronicle quoted Farrakhan as saying. “And as long as Israel is first then whatever you think or plan will be in Israel before you leave the room in the White House. Mr. Trump, you have to extricate yourself from being controlled by any one of these.”

“America is never first, Israel is always first”, says Farrakhan

Farrakhan made his comments in a recent speech marking Saviours’ Day, the anniversary of the birth of the founder of the Nation of Islam, a political and religious group “working to improve conditions for African Americans.”

Israel air force, Arab military participate in joint exercises

The Israel Air Force has been taking part in Iniohos 2017, a joint military exercise this week in Greece, which includes dozens of aircraft from foreign armies, including the United Arab Emirates, according to Israeli media. This is not the first time that the Israel Air Force has cooperated with its UAE counterpart. Last year, Haaretz reports, Israeli pilots participated in the Red Flag training exercise in the United States in which pilots from Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Spain also participated.

Israel and the UAE do not have official diplomatic relations although there are reports in foreign media from time to time of unofficial contacts or of contacts that remain secret.

Kosher food prices rise in England. Blame Brexit

Brexit, the imminent departure of England from the European Union, is cited by British kosher stores and suppliers as the cause of double-digit price increases on many Passover foods this year, “forcing more families to seek support from welfare charities,” the London Jewish Chronicle reports. The fall in the British currency after last year’s exit vote has led to recent rises in the cost of importing kosher goods, according to the newspapers.

“So many products now are coming either from America or from Israel,” said Rabbi Jeremy Conway, head of the London Beth Din’s kashrut division. “And they are going to get more expensive because the exchange rates have changed so dramatically.”

Menachem Schtraks, owner of the B Kosher supermarket chain, said the cost of imported goods had “gone up by at least 20 per cent since last June”. He said “margins are so small” that he had no choice but to pass on some of the increase to customers.

 ‘Shark Tank,” kosher style

A new corporate-funding matchmaker program called BizTank brings together entrepreneurs and successful Jewish investors, the Algemeiner reports. Based on the popular TV show “Shark Tank,” which features prospective entrepreneurs pitching their ideas to a panel of billionaire business leaders, the Florida-based initiative is the brainchild of charedi business guru Joel Klein, CEO of IMBC (Immediate Marketing & Business Consulting).

BizTank helps budding and expanding companies find funding. Entrepreneurs are invited to submit their pitches for review, and a handful is asked to present to the panel of BizTank business moguls. The entrepreneurs can seek investments from $50,000 to $5,000,000.

While open to anyone, BizTank is “especially beneficial for haredi and ultra-Orthodox Jewish entrepreneurs.”

Israeli honey wins tasting contest in U.S.

An Israeli beekeeper from Kedumim in central Samaria, recently won first prize for her wildflower honey in a honey tasting contest held in North Carolina, according to the Jewish Press. Yael Farbstein, owner of Kedumim Honey, won first place in the category of the International Multi-Floral Sourced Honeys of the Black Jar Honey Tasting Contest.

The annual Black Jar Honey Tasting Contest has been sponsored for six years by the Center for Honeybee Research in Asheville. The international competition covered 10 different; winners came from Turkey, Italy, Slovenia, Kenya as well as Canada and the U.S.

Farbstein’s winning entry contains nectar from a variety of wildflowers including rosemary, lupines, dandelions, and other wildflowers found on the West Bank.

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